When the twin towers came crashing down, many Muslims believed that it was the work of Mossad or the CIA and that Jews were absent that day. During the Asian Financial Crisis, Dr Mahathir Mohammed, then Prime Minister of Malaysia told his people that it was the Jews that were behind it. Nigerian mothers (who are Muslims) refused to allow their children to be vaccinated because they believed that the Americans were trying to harm them with contaminated vaccine. The cartoon, Tom & Jerry was invented by the Jews because people equated them to rats and they want to change the image of rats into something cute.
All these conspiracy theories are crazy. Yet millions of Muslims believe them. We tend to be mildly amused and ignore them without asking why they find it easy to believe these conspiracy theories which we know to be absurd. Yet a close inquiry into this will yield a mother lode of information into the workings and the world view of Muslim minds. So why then do so many Muslims believe absurd theories?
Firstly, Islam encourages mistrust of the infidel. Here are some Koranic verses concerning what Islam says about unbelievers (1):
O ye who believe! Take not for intimates others than your own folk, who would spare no pains to ruin you; they love to hamper you. Hatred is revealed by (the utterance of) their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is greater. We have made plain for you the revelations if ye will understand.
O ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you?
O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.
From this it can be seen that infidels (i.e. unbelievers) are out to do the Muslim in. The infidels hate Muslims and Muslims are discouraged from befriending them.
It says so in the Koran. So it must be true. If from young, you have this sort of attitude towards non-Muslims, then you are going to find conspiracy theories about infidels plotting the destruction of Muslims to be believable. No wonder they become paranoid.
Secondly, Islam has given Muslims an over-inflated self image that cannot square with reality. In the Muslim world-view, Islam is the perfect religion and Muslims are therefore the best nation charged with leading the world. Take a look at this verse from the Koran (3):
You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.
I will talk more about this later. While Muslims are supposed to be the best, it of course follows that non-Muslims are less than best. Koran reads (6):
O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.
This view is echoed by Ayatollah Sistani whom the US hopes (fat hope) will be a moderate force in Iraq. See his website (7). According to Ayatollah Sistani, kafirs (another name for unbelievers) are dirty and in the same category with urine and feces.
But am I cherry-picking some verses from the Koran just to prove my point? Do Muslims really teach their young to despise and distrust the infidels? Wafa Sultan grew up in Syria. This is what she said (2):
“Until I came to United States I used to believe that Jewish people are not human creatures,” she says. “Unfortunately this is the way I was brought up, to believe that Jews don’t have our human features, they don’t have our human voices.”
In the first week she was in the United States she and her husband went to a shoe shop in Hollywood. Her husband asked the clerk where he was from and when he said that he was an Israeli Jew, “you can’t believe what I did”, she says. “I ran away without shoes, barefoot. My husband followed me. He said, ‘How stupid you are.’ But I said, ‘I cannot tolerate him.’ I was scared to death because he was from Israel; I reacted in a very bad, negative way, because of the way I had been raised, for the past 30 years of my life.”
She was so afraid of the Jew that she ran away without her shoes on! This is the kind of upbringing that Muslim kids in that part of the world are getting from their parents and teachers.
Coming back to the issue of Muslim superiority, you can see that this notion is also reflected in the Islamic Human Rights Declaration (4). This is in stark contrast with the Universal Declaration of Human right which assumes that all cultures and religions are equal. The first paragraph of the Islamic Human rights declaration reads:
“Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization."
What a pompous statement. Muslims want to see themselves as the best nation whose role is to guide a supposedly confused humanity that is plagued with problems and lead them to the wonderful Islamic civilization. But unfortunately for Muslims, the hype cannot live up with reality.
In truth, Muslims are amongst the poorest, most backwards people on the earth. This is acknowledged by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. (5)Far from solving humanity's problems, Muslims are themselves mired in problems and often living in dysfunctional societies. Not only are they mired in their problems but they also create problems for others.
Falling behind supposedly inferior infidels has created a deep sense of humiliation. This is worsened by the fact that they have an idealized picture of their own past when Islam was once a superpower with an empire stretching from Spain to India. European school children are taught to be ashamed of their countries' imperialistic past. But Muslim kids in the Middle East at least are taught of the conquests of the Arab armies as something more than glorious. The conquests are also seen as part of Allah's will.
Muslims are thus like the impoverished noble families who are unable to adapt to changed circumstances and are constantly reminding themselves of past glories. The inability to achieve the “top dog” position which Muslims believe they deserve leads to humiliation. A feeling of humiliation leads to rage against the infidel whom they were taught to despise and distrust.
It makes even the most ridiculous conspiracy theories believable. Nobody wants to believe that failures are their own fault. It must be the work of the no-good filthy infidels (especially Jews) whom the Koran says hate and out to ruin Muslims. People with low self-esteem often blames others for their failures. Rather than blame their own incompetence, paranoid people shift the blame on some enemy.
Minds filled with humiliation, hate, anger and distrust are thus the roots of Muslim paranoia. These roots find rich nourishment on Islamic soil.
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